Creating Young Martyrs
Conditions That Make Dying in a Terrorist Attack Seem Like a Good Idea
by Alice LoCicero and Samuel J. Sinclair
August 2008, 148pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-275-99690-1
$75, £58, 66€, A103
Paperback: 978-1-4408-3609-1
$35, £27, 31€, A48
eBook Available: 978-0-275-99691-8
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Explains how and why we must understand the conditions that spur youths to become martyrs by making them think suicide bombings and other acts of self-destructive terrorism are a good way to die.

The authors explain how and why we must understand the conditions that spur youths to become martyrs by making them think suicide bombings and other acts of self-destructive terrorism are a good way to die. LoCicero and Sinclair present cutting-edge research and theory about the political, social, and living conditions that raise the risk of children deciding to join organizations that use terrorist tactics, and, having joined, to volunteer for missions in which they intentionally die while causing death and destruction, in order to make an impact. Equally important, LoCicero and Sinclair offer concrete suggestions about how ordinary Americans can help reduce and prevent terrorism around the globe.


"This is a relatively short book composed of six chapters. The first chapter consists of a chatty travelogue describing one author's visit to Sri Lanka. The second begins with the description of a conference held in 2007 in Madrid and then uses it as a backdrop for consideration of the problems of defining 'terrorism' and 'terrorist,' as well as other major conceptual problems faced by scholars studying terrorism. The book relies primarily on the impressions gathered on the visit to Sri Lanka, secondary scholarly sources, literary works, and conference proceedings. The third chapter tries to apply the literature on cognitive development. The fourth focuses on the hopelessness of ending the 'war' these children are facing--some child interview material is used anecdotally. The fifth considers the problem that most victims of terrorist attacks are civilians."—Choice, May 1, 2009

"What could possibly lead young people, in their teens or even younger, to knowingly take their own lives in order to kill others? LoCicero and Sinclair provide thoughtful, original, and provocative answers to this question. Unlike other recent discussions of the motives that drive terrorist violence, the authors take a developmental and cultural perspective, focusing on the evolving mind of the young person who lives in a world in which his or her people are dominated by powerful others and basic human rights and opportunities are scarce. Based on the best modern and classic scholarship and their own in-depth interviews with young and older persons in war-torn regions, they provide a powerful analysis that is sure to add to our understanding of one of the most vexing problems facing today's world."—Tom Pyszczynski, Ph.D, Professor of Psychology, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

"The importance of this book, based on research in Sri Lanka, lies in its imaginative construction of the real choices faced by children recruited for war. Without minimizing the horror and terror of warfare, it portrays a complex process of decision making that often involves the weighing of personal risk against the pull of other cultural and social forces. The result is a study of child soldiers that avoids the cliche-ridden commentary that informs most studies of this subject and lets us see children as real social actors in times of conflict."—David M. Rosen, J.D., Ph.D, Professor of Anthropology and Law, Fairleigh Dickinson University

"The war on terror can never be won with guns, but rather by understanding the forces that drive an individual to become a terrorist and then constructively addressing those forces. This book makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of why children are driven to terrorism. The insights it offers may allow us to formulate policies that deter children at risk from engaging in terrorism."—Naresh Gunaratnam, Clinical Scholar, St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, Ann Arbor, Michigan

"This very readable book lucidly explores the life events through which children become soldiers in terrorist organizations and potential martyrs for their causes. The authors present well-established social and developmental theories from every-day life and use them to interpret these events. By going beyond the realm of individual pathology and considering development in a social environment, they shed light on a horrific phenomenon. The study of terrorism greatly needs such examples of using the psychology learned from our ordinary lives."—Arthur J. Kendall Ph.D., President, Social Research Consultants, University Park, Maryland
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